“Funny story: people think they know me,” Simone Biles wrote a few days ago on her Instagram channel. And behind her she puts a gray heart and posts a selfie. Over 300,000 people like this post. But it is clear that many still do not know: so who is Simone Biles?
Here are the facts: She is the most successful gymnast in history. Biles, who is 1.42 meters tall and weighs 50 kilograms, has won a gold medal four times at the Olympics, won 19 world titles and created four gymnastics items named after her, and has been the face of the sport for nearly a decade.
And there’s her contribution to another world: In early 2018, Biles took the lead in the MeToo movement when she announced that she was one of hundreds of women abused by Larry Nassar, the former team doctor for American gymnasts. She later campaigned for Black Lives Matter and protested against the oppression of blacks.
Shadows over the World Gymnastics Championships
How can the two be combined? The answer came by Simone Biles at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. In the final of the team’s all-around competition, she failed to jump, cut off her opponent and then described the tremendous pressure she was on: “I say mental health comes first. So sometimes it’s okay to sit in the big competitions to focus on yourself. It shows how really strong you are as a competitor. And someone, instead of just fighting your way in.”
Athletes’ heads are no longer a taboo. In addition to Biles, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and American figure skater Niga Huston have also spoken about mental issues this year. So Simone Biles is also: a role model. Last week, eight weeks after the Olympics, Kitakyushu hosted the World Gymnastics Championships. But there was a shadow of it.
In addition to other stars, Simone Biles was also missing. Instead, the 24-year-old does gymnastics at the other end: more than 10,000 kilometers as a crow and fourteen time zones fly from Japan. “Gold Over America Tour” is the name of her gymnastics show that takes her and others across the United States. The tour began in Tucson, Arizona at the end of September and will end in Boston in November. 32 stations, 32 matches.
Mental health discussion
The idea came to her even before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Biles’ gymnastics show is unlike anything that has ever existed. She uses dancers, builds LED panels into the program – and tells a story that primarily targets young girls and wants one thing: transmitting power. “It’s really important to instill that confidence and character in them at a young age so that they feel more comfortable as adults and talk more confidently about certain things they struggle with,” Beals told USA Today.
She is also helped by her advertising partner Athleta, for whom she left Nike, the world’s largest supplier of sports equipment, shortly before the start of the Olympics. At the time, Biles announced via Instagram that she wanted to work with a brand that “shares her passion for helping girls develop.” Additionally, Athleta is committed to “diversity and inclusion” and thus stands for “everything I believe in”. How will it go after the tour? Biles is not sure. She says she wants to fuel the discussion about mental health, spend more time with her family and friends, and take a break. At least one year, as you did after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
And she’s not ruling out a comeback with a view of the Paris Games in 2024. But now she knows that competition isn’t everything either: “Tokyo wasn’t what I wanted, but I think it meant more to me that I had such an experience. Strength and courage inside me. That’s also part of her story: Simone Biles is more than a gymnast, bigger than a sport. In Japan, at the World Cup, they lost. But it doesn’t give the impression that something was missing.
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